ABO Blood Group System
The ABO blood group is represented by substances on the surface of red blood cells (RBCs). These substances are important because they contain specific sequences of amino acid and carbohydrates which are antigenic. As well as being on the surface of RBCs, some of these antigens are also present on the cells of other tissues. A complete blood type describes the set of 29 substances on the surface of RBCs, and an individual's blood type is one of the many possible combinations of blood group antigens. Usually only the ABO blood group system and the presence or absence of the Rhesus D antigen (also known as the Rhesus factor or RH factor) are determined and used to describe the blood type. Over 400 different blood group antigens have been found, many of these being very rare. If an individual is exposed to a blood group antigen that is not recognized as self, the individual can become sensitized to that antigen.
Several different RBC surface antigens stemming from one allele (or very closely linked genes) are collectively labeled as a blood group system (or blood group). The two most important blood group systems were discovered during early experiments with blood transfusion, the ABO group in 1901 and the Rhesus group in 1937 . These two blood groups are reflected in the common nomenclature A positive, O negative, etc. with letters referring to the ABO group and positive/negative to the presence/absence of the RhD antigen of the Rhesus group. Development of the Coombs test in 1945 and the advent of transfusion medicine led to discovery of more blood groups.
Blood Group AB
Blood Group AB individuals have both A and B antigens on the surface of their RBCs, and their blood serum does not contain any antibodies against either A or B antigen. Therefore, a individual with type AB blood can receive blood from any group (with AB being preferable), but can only donate blood to another group AB individual.
Blood Group A
Blood Group A individuals have the A antigen on the surface of their RBCs, and blood serum containing IgM antibodies against the B antigen. Therefore, a group A individual can only receive blood from individuals of groups A or O (with A being preferable), and can donate blood to individuals of groups A or AB.
Blood Group B
Blood Group B individuals have the B antigen on their surface of their RBCs, and blood serum containing IgM antibodies against the A antigen. Therefore, a group B individual can only receive blood from individuals of groups B or O (with B being preferabe), and can donate blood to individuals of groups B or AB.
Blood group O
Blood group O individuals do not have either A or B antigens on the surface of their RBCs, but their blood serum contains IgM antibodies against both A and B antigens. Therefore, a group O individual can only receive blood from a group O individual, but they can donate blood to individuals of any ABO blood group (ie A, B, O or AB).